Four Dead, Two Hospitalised After Drowning In Factory's Effluent Pit.

Security personnel leaving Leather Industries after carrying out some preliminary investigations on the accident in which four workers died. (Inset) The effluent pit that the victims lost their lives on Thursday afternoon.
Four people have been confirmed dead after drowning in an effluent pit they were unclogging at Leather Industries Limited in Thika on Thursday afternoon. Two others were transferred to a Nairobi hospital in critical condition.

Preliminary reports indicate that five of the victims had been assigned to unclog some refuse that had blocked waste water from flowing away when one of them accidentally fell into this deep manhole at around 12:30pm. It was as his colleagues attempted to rescue him that they too got chocked by gases emitted by the solution and followed suit.

One of the dead was a security guard who rushed to the scene, fifteen minutes later, when word went round that some workers had perished into the septic hole. The remnants of the milk he was taking for lunch was still at his desk at the gate at time we arrived at the scene.

Sources who sought for anonymity for fear of reprisal said that the victims might have been overwhelmed by the strong gases emitted by the waste water causing them to get dizzy and fall off. They added that some of the chemicals used to preserve the hides as well as those used to break the waste for disposal could have contributed to the accident.

"The gases emitted at this effluent pit are so strong and at times they can choke you to unconsciousness if one inhales them. You can just tell by the foul smell that is even affecting you yards away from the pit," one man explained.

He added that immediately after the accident, workers rushed to the scene and retrieved the bodies of the deceased and the two survivors. It is is alleged that the management rushed the victims various hospitals in Thika with the four pronounced dead on arrival.

Both AMA Thika Muslim Health Centre and Mt. Sinai Hospitals in Makongeni confirmed receiving two bodies each, with Mt. Sinai having forced to transfer the survivors to Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.

"The two people we received here were already dead by the time they arrived here. Their bodies were taken to General Kago Funeral Home," said Evanson Njoroge the senior clinical officer at Ama hospital.

Thika West DCC Tom Anjere led a team of the district security team to the scene of crime and later followed up to the hospitals. He called for calm as the police embarked on investigations to ascertain the circumstances that led to these deaths.

The company management refused to speak to the media with at one point, the Production Manager, a Mr. Nicholas almost attacking the media who attempted to squeeze out information from him.

Other sources from employees claimed that they were summoned to go home immediately after the accident and instructed not to talk about it. Our sources revealed that accidents at this firm were very common but every time a case like this happened, it was swept under the carpet.

"Hii sio mara ya kwanza jambo kama hili kutokea. Watu hukufa huku halafu watu wao wanaambiwa ni kuanguka na hiyo story inagongewa chini ya maji." said our sources.

They further told us that workers were usually silenced with some pay hike thus most of these incidences went unreported.

"In today's case, all the victims had no protective gear other than overalls and gumboots," we were notified.
Leather Industries Limited has been in the news previously for not controlling the foul smell that affected residents of Kisii Estate and Gachagi Slums.
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